March 29, 2010

Welcome Spring!! This week brought the entire spectrum of weather--sunshine and 70 degrees, cloudy and rainy plus even a few snow flurries, two short hail storms and then more sunshine. All of the girls at the Asian barn continue to flourish, thrive and embrace every facet of our weather. This week not only marked the first day of Spring, but also the first sprigs of grass that are now long enough to graze on.
Sissy and Winkie followed a trail down through the woods that opens into Dr. Scott's Pasture, a favorite hang-out for these two. Winkie was in the lead, walking her usual pace, a slow methodical stroll, reaching the edge of the forest. Suddenly she paused and raised her head, her eyes opened wide then she started flapping her ears. Winkie's caregivers couldn't contain themselves either, saying, "Winkle, grass to graze on. Isn't it wonderful?" Winkie responded with a few of her little 'phish phish' noises (one of her soft expressions of contentment), then her trunk hit the ground grazing... and grazing, followed by much more grazing. Ahh, the simple pleasures of Spring!
The Spring weather for Flora and Tange (pictured) inspired them to spend many days this week re-exploring the pine sapling plateau. This is one of the furthest corners of their habitat and a place they have not been all winter. The rains came, soaked the ground and once again made luscious mud for play. Both the girls were found at breakfast covered in big clumps of mud. Later, word spread that they had been spotted tossing mud at each other.

When the rains stopped and the weather turned cool, the girls appeared, heading back to the barn for shelter. They came in and relaxed and ate some hay while trying to rub as much mud as they could onto the stall bars. Then Tange started to rub her foot against the rubber floor, trying to displace some rocks in her pad. Back and forth she went, back and forth with both of her feet, while rubbing her trunk at the same time. All this commotion got Flora's attention and then both were doing the same foot dance side-by-side. First Tange lay down and then Flora did the same. Both got up and began throwing imaginary dust on themselves, so tangible shavings were put down in front of their stalls. That was much more fun to gather and toss on their heads, backs, bellies and legs.
Wednesday night's thunderstorm sent Debbie and Ronnie back up to the south gate area on Thursday morning. Around 2:00 PM, only Ronnie had come down. The caregiver brought her some hay, figuring Debbie wasn't far behind her friend. Sure enough, about 20 minutes later, Debbie came tromping out of the woods, scratching her sides against every tree on the way.
Minnie is beginning to make playing in the pond a daily activity. She thrashes logs and snaps small trees. She must have been thinking of her sisters yesterday when she knocked over a medium-sized willow tree, as willow browse is one of Lizzie's favorites! While Minnie swims, Lottie usually just stands at the edge of the pond, dipping her trunk in every now and then as if to say, "Hmm, not quite warm enough for me!"
We wanted to take this opportunity to thank some students from Ohio State University who, for the fourth year, just spent their alternative spring break volunteering at the Sanctuary. We honor the exceptional work ethic of this group of ten and all they accomplished, including cleaning up creeks down by the lake, digging up bamboo to be relocated in other habitats, and tearing down an old, precariously-standing barn. We were also excited to have their help to begin prepping and planting onions, potatoes and beets in a vegetable garden area for the elephants! For obvious reasons, this garden is located in an area the elephants can't reach, and since the soil here was heavy in clay, we put the elephants' waste to work from a compost pile we have been cultivating for several years. Now that we have our own "black gold" recipe mixed in, this should work nicely! Soon, a local volunteer and avid gardener will begin planting some more home grown produce here for the Girls.

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